Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP

Trump immigration comments spark chaos in GOP
© Fox News

House GOP leaders have put a compromise immigration bill on ice after President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE said Friday he “certainly” would not sign the legislation.

Trump’s comments have thrown into doubt whether House Republicans will even take up the thorny issue of immigration this crucial election year. Immigration votes had been planned for next week.

Republican leaders at the last-minute scrapped a planned Friday whip check on the compromise bill. Instead, they will try to gauge support for the bill next week after they get clarification about what exactly Trump meant in his Friday interview on Fox News, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryDems challenge bank CEOs on post-crisis reforms Wells Fargo CEO steps down amid calls for removal House panel approves marijuana banking bill MORE (R-N.C.) told reporters.

McHenry cautioned that House Republicans won’t “take on” immigration unless they have Trump's backing.

“We want to get clarity on the president’s position on this bill,” McHenry said just off the House floor. “Republicans are not going to take on immigration without the support and endorsement of President Trump.”

Even if leadership pushes ahead with the vote, one key lawmaker questioned whether Thursday is still a realistic timetable.

“In light of everything, I think it's fair to ask the question: Is next Thursday premature on these two votes?” said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Colorado state senators plan to introduce bill to let NCAA athletes get paid Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC).

Trump later tweeted a list of priorities that are already included in the compromise immigration bill.

Trump’s impromptu remarks threw a wrench into GOP leadership’s immigration plans.

Republican leaders, who were desperate to stave off a discharge petition from centrists that would force a free-wheeling immigration debate on the House floor, reached an agreement to hold two votes next week on a pair of immigration bills, including the compromise measure and a more hard-line bill from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier in the week said that Trump was “excited” about the compromise bill, while White House senior adviser Stephen Miller had met with conservatives on Capitol Hill to rally support for the immigration framework.

But several top House conservatives declared the 293-page compromise bill “dead on arrival” following Trump’s comments Friday.

Trump’s remarks were a “relief,” said Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report — Combative Trump aims at Pelosi before Russia report Steve King's campaign spent more than it raised last quarter It's time for a 'Congressional Jewish Caucus' MORE (R-Iowa), an immigration hard-liner who predicted that votes on both immigration bills would fail next week.

Asked if Republicans could pass an immigration bill without Trump’s support, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe Schumer staffer-turned-wrestling coach focus of new documentary MORE (R-Ohio), a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, tersely replied: “No.”

The compromise immigration bill is “on life support,” added Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtBarr forms team to probe FBI actions in Russia investigation: report The single-sentence Russia bombshell that Attorney General Barr delivered to Congress Live coverage: Barr faces House panel amid questions over Mueller report MORE (R-Ala.), an RSC member who opposes that legislation.

Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulLawmakers join musical stars to celebrate Grammys on the Hill DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats GOP, Dems balk at latest Trump foreign aid cuts MORE (R-Texas) said they were expecting the White House to put out a statement “any minute” clarifying Trump’s comments.

Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom Line The women in white and the trails they blaze Lobbying World MORE (R-Fla.), who is facing a tough reelection bid in a district that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Former Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' Seth Rich's brother calls for those pushing conspiracy to 'take responsibility' MORE won by nearly 20 points in 2016, added, “This is going to be a cliffhanger.”

The compromise measure sticks to the four main pillars demanded by Trump: It creates a new merit-based visa program for so-called Dreamers, provides $25 billion for border security, ends the diversity visa lottery program and limits family-based migration.

The legislation goes even further by including a trigger mechanism to halt the new visas if Congress denies funding for the border wall, ending the separation of immigrant children and parents at the border, and ending “catch and release” immigration loopholes.

Centrist Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Florida lawmakers pitch bipartisan Venezuela amendment for Dream Act House Dems reintroduce the Dream Act MORE (R-Fla.), one of the key negotiators, said the compromise bill is the last, best chance for any immigration and border security proposal to become law this year.

“It's the only shot at [the wall] and it's the only shot, I believe ... to legalize the Dreamers, stop the deportation of the Dreamers, and to have a permanent fix for them," said Diaz-Balart.

This isn't the first time that Trump has scuttled GOP leadership's plans by announcing last-minute opposition to a bill. 

Hours before the House was scheduled to vote on controversial legislation renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program in January, Trump tweeted that the program was used to "badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."

Capitol Hill was instantly thrown into confusion ahead of what was already expected to be a tight vote before Trump walked back his comments in a separate tweet.

Rafael Bernal and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.

Updated at 1:19 p.m.